To paraphrase the rap stars NWA ever so slightly, he’s a crazy mother named Hal Cruttenden.
And he’s back with a new show that draws its name from the original gangster rappers’ debut album – Straight Outta Cruttenden.
So were the group a big influence on you, then?
‘Not very big,’ Hal laughs. ‘They’re more a symptom of a deeper crisis.
‘I called it that because I had downloaded NWA and I was listening to it in my car, and I started thinking ‘‘why had I done that?’’ I realised it was part of my midlife crisis.
‘I do talk about how I first got into them when I was 20, but someone said it was a cynical move because the movie about them came out last year.
‘I honestly had no idea that was coming out when I chose the name though – it was pure luck. Of course, I’m hoping that I pick up a few people who wanted to see that and end up at my show. There’s a lot less urban angst in my show though – my show is suburban angst, I suppose.’
In the new show, his first since 2012’s Tough Luvvie, Hal rants about the real evils of the modern world.
‘The longer I go as a comic, the more I’m realising I’m quite a moaner,’ he explains. ‘As long as I keep putting myself down enough, I think people put up with it, as long as it’s funny. And I think the best material is from when you’re having a go about something.
‘What I really need to do is live in Somalia for a couple of years so I can see that my life is not that hard and I should shut up about it.’
Hal is also rather aware that there’s a danger when comics, ironically, start taking themselves too seriously.
‘You’re used to people listening to you and laughing, and that makes some of them believe that they have a message.
‘My agent asked me if I wanted to go on Question Time, and I do like talking politics, but it’s wrong for people to be listening to my opinion when there are politicians and people who make their living talking about politics. Then suddenly the comedian turns up saying: “Let me give you my wise thoughts on the situation.”
With regards to social media, Hal has decided to take a step back from Facebook.
‘I spent so much time trying to write and I end up on Facebook. Just reading what people say, whether it moves me or annoys me, it’s almost too much information coming at you. but also I can’t bear some of my friends, they’re just idiots.
‘Someone dies and people over-emote – the David Bowie thing, we were all sad, I shed a tear, I played some songs. For those of us in our 40s or 50s, he was a very important part of people’s lives, but don’t make out it’s ruined your life or upset you so much you can hardly function. It’s insulting to people who are related to him, I think.
‘I have a problem with some of the real indulgence.’
Hal’s also something of a control freak. ‘You can call me that, it’s completely true,’ he giggles.
‘I have a theory that deep down loads of comics, if they weren’t comics, they’d be fascist dictators.
‘It’s about controlling your environment and controlling people, it’s very dark – come and get controlled by Hal Cruttenden,’ he laughs.